Addictive Personality Disorder

Addictive Personality Disorder: Description, Causes and Risk FactorsAbbreviation: APD.Addictive Personality Disorder can be defined as a condition wherein an individual is susceptible to addiction. This may include drug abuse or addiction to alcohol, pornography and certain activities, such as gambling, video games, etc. An individual is considered to be at the risk of developing such addictions when he/she exudes aggression, anxiety, depression or lack of self-control and does not know how to manage his/her emotions. Such a person may switch from one addiction to the other or even sustain multiple addictions at different times.The people suffering from addictive personality disorder are very much sensitive to stress. They find it highly intimidating to tolerate frustrating situations, even if it is for a very short duration. Such people often lack self-esteem, show impulsive behavior and usually have a sense of heightened level of stress. Mood swings is another visible symptom of the addictive personality disorder. Let us learn more about the common traits of addictive personality disorder, through the following lines.Addictive Personality DisorderThere may be underlying biological causes for addictive personality disorder. It is widely agreed for instance that addictive personalities are caused by abnormally high levels of dopamine in the brain and this then causes them to require more dopamine in order to maintain the same psychological state. In one study, Parkinson's patients were given a dopamine drug in order to help treat their symptoms and it was found that they become significantly more likely to develop a gambling addiction.Genetics also seem to play a role and twin studies show that alcoholism is inheritable at around 50-70 percent.Risk Factors:
  • Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality and a disposition toward sensation seeking.
  • A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.
  • A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance.
  • A sense of heightened stress. This may help explain why adolescence and other stressful transition periods are often associated with the most severe drug and alcohol problems.
  • Antisocial behavior is one of the visible traits of people suffering from addictive personality disorder. They often turn down the invitations from their close friends and relatives, to parties and other social events, in order to alienate themselves from anybody who knows them in the society. The main reason behind such behavior is that they are fearful of being caught.
  • The feeling of isolation often haunts people facing the problem of addiction. To substitute the lack of personal relationships, they turn towards drugs, smoking, alcohol consumption, or the like, thinking that such harmful substances are "quick-fix" solutions for their life's problems.
  • People suffering from APD find it difficult to manage their stress levels. In fact, lack of stress tolerance is a telltale sign of the disorder. They find it difficult to face stressful situations and fight hard to get out of such conditions.
  • Addictive personalities have difficulty in planning and achieving long-term goals, because their focus remains on the short term targets only.
  • Such personalities switch to other enjoyable activities, the moment they are deprived of enjoyment in their previous addiction.
  • Addictive individuals feel highly insecure, when it comes to relationships. They may often find it difficult to make commitments in relationships or trust their beloved. They constantly seek approval of others. As a result, misunderstandings might creep in, which in turn, would ruin their relationships.
  • People suffering from addictive personality disorder usually undergo depression and anxiety. They manage emotions by developing addiction to drugs, alcohol or other pleasurable activities.
Diagnosis:The DSM IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition-text revision), published by American Psychiatric Association, is used to diagnosis a mental illness or a drug/alcohol status. The DSM IV defines all mental illnesses and alcohol/substance use based on specific criteria and is considered multi-axial. The DSM IV TR distinguishes use patterns of alcohol by categorizing it between abuse and dependence. Both diagnoses indicate a maladaptive patter. They are distinguished between the pattern of use itself, the level of tolerance, the consequences incurred by use and ability or inability to stop use of alcohol. Abuse is defined by the beginning of consequences in life areas such as financial, family, social, legal, and work. The person at an alcohol abuse level continues to use despite the consequences. A sign is that the person continues to use either more frequently or consume more drinks placing themselves in a physically, socially, financially or morally unsafe situation. An example would be a person placing themselves at risk of obtaining a DUIdriving under the influence. Another example would be someone who becomes verbally or physically violent when they drink continuing to drink.Dependence is more specifically defined in a strong craving to drink, loss of control (not able to decrease or stop drinking despite consequences), a physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms present when not drinking) and tolerance (need to drink more or more often to get same result.The DSM IV does not diagnosis the process addictions specifically, however, it is noted in personality disorders. In addition, there are categories for obsessive compulsive personality disorder and sexual deviance. A clinician must find the diagnosis that best fits and then add the specifier to note the specific disorder. A psychologist also has the capability of using specific psychologicl tests such as the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) to help identify the disorder.Treatment:Counseling is the best remedy for addictive personality disorder. Send the person suffering from APD to a rehabilitation center. Through meetings at the center, the addictive personality would be able to recover from the disorder easily and effectively.One form of treatment for addictive personality is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These treatments help patients by utilizing coping skills training, relapse prevention, behavior interventions, family and group treatments, facilitated self-change approaches, and aversion therapy. Other ways cognitive therapy works and helps is by using positive reinforcement and behavioral modeling. Along with these, other options that help with treating those who suffer with addictive personality include social support, help with goal direction, rewards, enhancing self-efficacy and help teaching coping skills.Another form of treatment, which can be overlooked, is self-soothing. People with addictive personality disorders use their addictions to self-soothe in stressful situations. However, since their addictions do not actually soothe them, they feel the need to do their addiction more often. For example, a person with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) will repetitively do their obsessions and compulsions because they believe it will soothe them. One treatment option for those suffering from addictive personality disorder is for them to learn to self-soothe in stressful situations in a positive manner. This can be done through intense therapy, where the therapist needs to be patient in order to help those suffering. The therapist will help the patient overcome their helplessness so that the patient can learn to self-soothe.Another form of treatment that has been considered for people with addictive personalities who tend towards substance abuse is medication. A medication called Disulfiram was created in 1947. This pill was used for alcoholics and would cause adverse effects if combined with alcohol. This medication is still used today but two others have been made to help treat alcohol dependence (Acamprosate and Naltrexone). Along with alcohol addictions, Naltrexone is also used for opioid addiction. Although these medications have proven results in decreasing heavy drinking, doctors still have to consider the patients' health when prescribing these medications because it may be healthier for a patient to be on an anti-depressant or some other medication.NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. 


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